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The influence of seat backrest angle on perceived discomfort during exposure to vertical whole-body vibration

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National and International Standards (e.g. BS 6841 and ISO 2631-1) provide methodologies for the measurement and assessment of whole-body vibration in terms of comfort and health. The EU Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive (PAVD) provides criteria by which vibration magnitudes can be assessed. However, these standards only consider upright seated (90°) and recumbent (0°) backrest angles, and do not provide guidance for semi-recumbent postures. This article reports an experimental programme that investigated the effects of backrest angle on comfort during vertical whole-body vibration. The series of experiments showed that a relationship exists between seat backrest angle, whole-body vibration frequency and perceived levels of discomfort. The recumbent position (0°) was the most uncomfortable and the semi-recumbent positions of 67.5° and 45° were the least uncomfortable. A new set of frequency weighting curves are proposed which use the same topology as the existing BS and ISO standards. These curves could be applied to those exposed to whole-body vibration in semi-recumbent postures to augment the existing standardised methods.

Practitioner Summary: Current vibration standards provide guidance for assessing exposures for seated, standing and recumbent positions, but not for semi-recumbent postures. This article reports new experimental data systematically investigating the effect of backrest angle on discomfort experienced. It demonstrates that most discomfort is caused in a recumbent posture and that least was caused in a semi-recumbent posture.
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Keywords: backrest angle; human comfort; whole-body vibration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, UK 2: Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK 3: QinetiQ,Farnborough, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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